Yes, the day that Brexit broke out, and while the referendum shock waves were still calculating how much of their pent-up fury to unleash, eurocrats of a continental bent spontaneously copied the unofficial and ultimately unsuccessful “Remain” campaign strategy which called upon citizens of other EU member states to shower Britons with love to convince them to vote to stay.
We were waiting for jolly Jean-Claude Juncker – the man David Cameron tried to block from becoming Commission President. Oh folly!
The previous night some of us had gathered at a local hostelry for a “Last Night of the Poms” social event to watch the results come in, fairly confident that the Poms were nowhere near running out of EU nights. Oh folly two!
And now we British journalists were being hugged and squeezed by what Brexiteers call faceless eurocrats, who had clearing taken time off from interfering in every nook and cranny of my daily life to make us all feel better.
Being very reserved types, we British of course showed little inclination to implement a reciprocal “Hug a Eurocrat” day, in case the gesture compromised our already shaky credentials for impartial engagement with “Brussels”.
And Jolly Jean-Claude, normally a tactile sort, didn’t look ready to hug any Brits when he walked into the room. He looked like he’d like to slap a few round the chops though.
He opened his remarks with a terse “Ladies and gentlemen and, in some cases, friends”…,
So here it began, on Brexit Day One, with JJC delivering a no-nonsense statement agreed with three other EU presidents – Donald Tusk of the European Council, Martin Schulz of the European Parliament and Mark Rutte, holder of the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU. And yes, it does have to be this complicated, as befitting a family of 28, soon to be 27, Member States.
Or maybe not so soon: early signs are that Downing Street – whoever that means in the months to come - is in no hurry to activate the “Article 50” EU departure plan which is the next step in the Brexit process of disentanglement.
JJC has other ideas. He said he expected the UK government to give effect to the referendum Brexit decision as soon as possible “however painful that process may be”, adding: “Any delay will unnecessarily prolong uncertainty.”
He announced that a “New Settlement for the United Kingdom Within the European Union” agreed last February – the Cameron reform package designed to win the referendum – “will now not take effect and ceases to exist. There will be no renegotiation”.
And British eurocrats in the room, one or two of them genuinely tearful, visibly winced when Mr Juncker rubbed in the fact that any Brexit agreement “will be concluded with the UK as a third country”.
Across the road, Minister for Europe David Lidington was making a tiny bit of history by being the first post-Brexit British government minister attending what should have been a routine gathering of EU ministers.
But if Mr LIdington’s EU colleagues engaged in an impromptu “Hug a Brit Minister” policy, nobody was admitting it to the media.
Back at Commission headquarters the Hug a Brit policy carried on, even after JJC swept out of the press room after abruptly denying a suggestion that Brexit might be the beginning of the end for the European Union.
A “technical briefing” followed in a valiant attempt by eurocrats to tackle questions about exactly how, when, where and possibly why, the UK would be unshackled from the European Union.
It was, as the name suggests, all very technical and as your correspondent departed, a female Spanish journalist rushed over and enthusiastically carried out her duty under the “Hug a Brit” policy, which involved a legally-binding squeeze round the middle accessorised with two big continental-style kisses on both cheeks.
For the moment, it is still okay to be British in Brussels, but it may not last.